Electricity from power plants that burn forest biomass is extraordinarily expensive compared to clean-energy alternatives, according to a new study. Researchers calculated the cost of electricity from plants operated by utility giant Dominion Resources Inc., three of which were coal plants fully converted to burn biomass. The study found that electricity from all four facilities costs significantly more than wind, solar, or energy efficiency programs.
The U.S. Southeast is undergoing a significant energy transition marked by anticipated coal phase outs and falling renewables prices. As coal plants are slated to be retired, utilities, regulators, and policymakers should heed the lesson learned from Dominion’s decisions in Virginia and reject costly coal-to-biomass conversions.